How to stay healthy if wildfire smoke drops the air quality again over this weekend

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Wildfires continue to burn in the Western US, and in parts of Canada. The bulk of the wildfire smoke we have seen this season has been due to the fires over Canada, and another round of wildfire smoke is forecasted to return to Rochester this weekend. Low pressure that will bring us showers and storms Saturday night and early Sunday will bring along another round of wildfire haze.

This haze may once again drop air quality across the region, and because of that First Alert Meteorologist spoke with the Chief of Pediatric Pulmonology from the University of Rochester to get an understanding as to how low air quality can affect our breathing and what we can do to stay healthy when outdoors.

“We know that certain subgroups of people who have lung disease, for example, asthma, and C.O.P.D. or chronic obstructive lung disease, and those also with chronic heart disease are at risk for adverse effects after exposure to high air pollution,” said Augusto Litonjua, Chief of Pediatric Pulmonology.

Those who suffer from these health conditions need to monitor the air quality and go indoors when necessary to avoid acute effects from the low air quality.

Litonjua says, “If the air quality is bad for example, quality index goes above 100 than it is probably safer to stay indoors, do things indoors, and avoid extended exposures to the outside air.”

If you are unable to make it indoors, there are ways you can maintain your health. You will want to avoid strenuous activities like yard work and exercising. Also, if you would like, a mask will also mitigate the effects of smoke particles making their way into your lungs.

If you are indoors and worried about the poor air quality making its way into your home, there are ways to keep the inside air clean.

“The recommendations are that if they are indoors then it would be best to make sure their air conditioner is on. If they have the means to get HEPPA filters, for example, these air filters that could improve air quality indoors," mentions Litonjua.

Doctor Litonjua also says even the healthy population needs to monitor air quality because he has seen an increase in long-term effects in patients who were previously healthy.